Gatlinburg was practically built for visitors to the Tennessee side of Smoky Mountain National Park. A massive collection of attractions, eateries, and shops line the streets of the downtown, which bustles no matter the season. The best part of all? Views of the Smokies saturate the tourist town, and Gatlinburg makes it easy for any traveler to enjoy the majestic scenery. This well-balanced list of attractions in Gatlinburg ensures fun for all ages.
Guests can live out their treehouse fairytale dreams at Anakeesta, a family-friendly theme park in the mountains. An expanse of bridges suspended high above the ground carries visitors through the trees to appreciate nature in a way not typical without a set of wings. Storybook sculptures blend beautifully into the stunning botanical garden, home to an impressive collection of thriving flora. Thousands of feet of zip lines and the United States' only single-rail roller coaster, the Rail Runner, await those adventurers looking for a bit of thrill.
9 Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
Easily spend a day eating and exploring an impressive eight-mile loop of over one hundred shops and galleries in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Eighty years of history paint the streets of the largest independent artisanal community in the United States. From handcrafted pottery and jewelry to homemade candies and leather goods, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Several shops even offer classes for anyone looking to bring home an undoubtedly unique souvenir.
8 Ober Gatlinburg
The thrill of sledding is alive year-round at Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort with so much more to offer than smooth slopes. The attraction is home to an aerial tramway, where guests will have the best views of the Smokies without driving into them. Those with a competitive spirit can race down the Alpine Slide on sled-like carts, controlling their speed through the mountain scenery over nearly 2,000 feet of track.
The Amaze'n Maze challenges visitors' problem-solving skills, while the climbing wall tests their strength. For even more fun, guests can visit the resident black bear family, play a round of minigolf, and fly high on the chair swings. Ober Gatlinburg transforms into a snow-studded oasis ripe for skiing, tubing, and ice skating in the winter.
7 Ripley's Aquarium Of The Smokies
The impressive Ripley's Aquarium in the heart of Gatlinburg is an ideal escape from the sticky Tennessee heat in the summer and windy chill in the winter. Animals typically concealed underwater swim through perfectly clear glass tanks, delighting children and adults alike. Several exhibits spread over two levels display aquarium favorites like sand sharks, stingrays, penguins, and jellyfish. Ripley's even offers guests overnight opportunities to sleep with the sharks, an experience sure to make a stay in Gatlinburg memorable.
6 Doc's 321 Cafe & Marketplace
A person doesn't need to be a Deadhead to enjoy Doc's 321 Cafe. The eatery located in nearby Cosby makes it easy for visitors a bit exhausted from the busy Gatlinburg streets to relax in style. Most travelers stumble upon the restaurant because the vibrant colors stand out in contrast to the richly saturated greens of the area's natural flora. Doc's offers a unique dining experience inside whimsically decorated, Grateful Dead-themed school buses. The bohemian feel immediately invites guests to take a chill pill, but it might be hard to keep cool when they taste the truly inspired barbecue smoked from the heart by Doc himself.
5 Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Get up close and personal with the most recognizable automobiles at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. The gassed-up archive features famous favorites like the Batmobile, the orange Dodge Charger from Dukes of Hazard, and the speedy Volkswagon Bug named Herbie. The museum also has an entire exhibit dedicated to the Fast and Furious franchise and cars of famous folks like Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson.
4 Salt And Pepper Shaker Museum
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is something people didn't know they needed until they stepped foot through the door. Dedicated collector Andrea Ludden displays her remarkable assemblage of shakers as a means to demonstrate how the evolution of civilization can be seen in even the most unexpected of places. The result is a dizzying amount of spice decanters from several decades, separated by theme, color, and material.
3 Ole Smoky Moonshine
At Ole Smoky Moonshine, guests can try before they buy a bottle or two of Tennessee's liquid courage of choice. The rustic distillery brews an array of flavorful moonshines and whiskeys guaranteed to satisfy. Bloody Marys get an extra bite from moonshine-infused pickles, and charming candles adorned in the Ole Smoky logo are great souvenirs to remind guests of their time in Gatlinburg. The hip location routinely features live music, making it an ideal place for adults to spend an afternoon before heading out for a satisfying dinner.
2 Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Add a bit of quirk to vacation with a trip to Ripley's Believe it or Not! The museum is a masterful display of kitsch, oddity, and the bizarre. Hundreds of artifacts fill the "Odditorium." Guests will get to see a 19th-century vampire-slaying kit, license plates from all over the country writing out the national anthem, a collection of authentic shrunken heads, and so much more.
1 Mysterious Mansion
Spooky season is every season at the Mysterious Mansion. The elaborate haunted house serves up scares in a creepy Victorian mansion fitted with hidden doors and spine-chilling monsters over three stories. The family-owned attraction has provided top-notch scares for over 40 years, solidifying its dedication to every dreadful detail.